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I Dare Me: Friday Night Oneg

As told to Elisheva Appel

They are unanimous in their opinion that no one will make fun of me or hate me forever for trying to be friendly

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

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I ntroducing...

You can take the girl out of high school, but you can’t take high school out of the girl. I may be married with kids and holding down a responsible job in an office where my co-workers value my work, but there’s a part of me that will always be absolutely convinced that I have no friends and I am flubbing every social situation.

I live in a big, bustling community where everyone is always busy. A common complaint is that people don’t know their neighbors, and it’s easy to feel lonely and anonymous (I’m one of the complainers).

But we can fix this… right? 


The Challenge

Why not host a Friday night oneg so the neighbors can get to know one another and promote community feeling? Well, mostly because going to an oneg would be hard enough for an insecure person like me, but actually hosting one is way above my pay grade. I’m not sure I’ve ever hosted a party — even for my bas mitzvah, I just went out to eat with family. I’m shy, and the thought of making myself vulnerable by inviting people into my home fills me with dread. What if no one comes? What if they all come and we sit around awkwardly trying to find something to say?

So why am I doing this to myself?

I believe in the cause. I think I, and probably many others, really would enjoy socializing a bit more without kids tugging on our skirts.

And beyond the simple objective, I want to prove to myself that I can do this. That now I’m grown-up, capable, and confident, and that my sense of self isn’t so bound up with what other people think of me… except that maybe it is.


Getting Ready

I had two critical areas to prepare: the logistical and the emotional. To get myself ready, I badger my husband and sisters nonstop for their encouragement and support. (“This is a good idea, right? No one will laugh at me?”)

They are unanimous in their opinion that no one will make fun of me or hate me forever for trying to be friendly, but my inner teenager needs a lot of convincing, which they patiently supply.

I also enlist one neighbor I know well who promises to come and be my moral support. When I realize she plans to be away for the Shabbos I want, the oneg is quickly rescheduled. No way am I doing this without having at least one person in my corner!

To mask my discomfort, I nonchalantly mention the plan to a couple of neighbors during the week leading up to the big day. Their negative reactions throw me for a loop; apparently, I am that very rare creature who isn’t asleep practically before her kids conk out on Friday nights. While they seem inclined to humor me by showing up, nobody is enthusiastic, so of course I panic. Back to the phone with my sister… “Gitty, is it offensive or inconsiderate to invite someone to your house for a Friday night oneg?” No, she insists, but I’m worried.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 584)

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